There isn’t much wildlife in the Netherlands, but there is some. The nearby dunes that are used to filter the drinking water for the city of Amsterdam (Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen) have so much deer running around in them, that the authorities have decided that some have to be shot in order to prevent suffering from starvation. (Interesting how ‘humane’ considerations can be a reason to hunt!) The local butcher is selling the meat to the public via koopeenhert.nu. Of course I could not resist the opportunity to acquire some local fresh game. And even better, it is possible to get a specific cut. Usually, venison is only available as “steak” (all tender parts) or “stewing meat” (all tough parts, already cut up into small pieces for a stew). Since I like lamb shank so much when it is cooked sous-vide, I decided to get a venison shank. I decided to cook it in Italian style, and I guessed that the same time and temperature as for lamb shank would work. It did work: the meat was perfectly cooked, tender, and juicy. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings
1 venison shank (mine was about 600 grams, 1.3 lbs)
1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
90 grams (1/3 cup) sieved tomatoes/tomato puree/passata
1/2 tsp minced juniper berries
1/4 tsp ground bay leaf (or 1 bay leaf, minced)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the venison shank with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides.
Brown it on all sides in olive oil over medium-high heat, then take it out and allow to cool.
Add the holy trinity of carrot, celery, and onion, plus minced garlic to the same pan in which you browned the venison. Season with salt.
Stir with a wooden spatula over medium heat, making sure to pick up any browned bits from browning the venison, until the vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes. Make sure not to allow the garlic to get brown, or it will get bitter.
Deglaze with 120 ml of red wine.
Add 90 grams of tomato paste.
Season with 1/2 tsp minced juniper berries, 1/4 tsp ground bay leaf (or 1 bay leaf, minced), 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook over low heat until the sauce becomes thick, about 5 minutes.
Vacuum seal the meat with the sauce, either with a ziplock bag and the water displacement method, or with a chamber vacuum sealer. For the latter, make sure the meat and sauce have cooled off before vacuum sealing, as the low pressure will otherwise cause the contents of the bag to boil.
Cook sous-vide for 48 hours at 62C/144F. (This cooking time is not very exact. Anything between 40 and 56 hours should be fine.)
Put the juices and vegetables from the bag in a saucepan…
…and puree with an immersion blender.
Take the meat off the bone, and cut into bite-size pieces.
Bring the pureed sauce to a boil, stirring, then turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the meat to the sauce…
…and stir to incorporate. Wait a couple of minutes to allow the sauce to slightly reheat the meat.
Serve on preheated plates. I served roasted parsnips on the side.
I tried this with two wines. The first was a Primitivo di Manduria from Puglia, the ‘heel of the boot’ that is Italy. Primitivo is actually the same grape variety as Zinfandel.
San Marzano, Talò, Primitivo di Manduria DOC 2013, retails in Italy for 11 euros
- 100% primitivo, aged in French and American oak barrels for 6 months
- Color: deep purple
- Nose: ripe cherries
- Taste: full bodied, velvety and ripe
- The wine by itself: very good, ****
Although the grapes for this wine have been ‘stewed’ by the sun and in terms of flavors it went well with this venison stew, it was actually a bit too strong in flavor and thus overpowered the dish. So only *** for the pairing. I happened to have something lighter open as well, so I tried this dish with a second wine.
Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG Etichetta Bianca 2013, retails in Italy for 12 euros
- 90% sangiovese, 10% “others” (cabernet sauvignon?), aged first in stainless steel and then in large barrels
- Color: bright ruby
- Nose: earthy
- Taste: complex, balanced, medium bodied, smooth tannins, nice acidity
- The wine by itself: very good, ****
Although the flavor intensity of this wine was a better match for the venison, it was a bit too fresh. So again not a clash, but not a good match either, ***.
An appropriate flashback for today is lamb shank with eggplant and yogurt, also cooked sous-vide.